Leading The Shenandoah pack consumes most of Thomas Collowell’s time. The Alpha’s job is never done. That had never been more true than when a killer targeting shifters strikes too close to home. He doesn’t have time to deal with a mate, especially a human.
There is nothing Camdon Williams wouldn’t do for his best friend, which is why he was the best man in Jessie’s joining ceremony. While in Skyline Village, he gets more than he bargained for, including a strange attraction to the Sheriff.
When Camdon and Thomas are forced to work together to stop the killer, Camdon’s eyes are opened to a world he wouldn’t have believed existed. They both learn that there is no such thing as perfect timing. Sometimes, it’s about taking a chance… before it’s too late.
George Washington National Forest
THE BANG of a gunshot rang out, a loud interruption ricocheting through the soft musical echoes of the forest. The flapping of wings followed, vibrating the air overhead with the caws of a multitude of retreating birds before, finally, silence reigned. The hunter lowered the weapon and let out the breath he’d held while taking the shot. He took in another lungful of frosty air through his nose, closing his eyes as satisfaction filled him. Finally, some action.
He gave the adrenaline its head for a moment, reveling in the sensation as it heated his blood, and then moved. Flipping the rifle over his back, he scrambled down from the God-forsaken tree stand and squirmed out of the safety harness. He’d been in the damn thing for hours and was stiff as hell.
He really preferred guided hunts, but a few friends thought good, old-fashioned buck hunting in the Virginia woods would be something different for him and snatched him up for the weekend. All day Saturday, and all of Sunday, sitting fourteen feet up in a tree, and for what? He muscles were tight, his fingers and toes numb, and not one antler to show for his trouble.
Now he remembered why he’d stopped doing this.
As quietly as possible, he adjusted his weapon of choice. His pride and joy was more than he needed to shoot a buck in this region but he figured that at least nothing would get away. If he hit the bugger, it would be a kill shot—just as it should be. Nothing was as satisfying as knowing when he pulled the trigger, the prey would be dead before they even hit the ground.
As the hunter waded through the dew covered underbrush, the smell of dirt and plants assailed his nose. He breathed deep of the scent, the nip of the chilled air awaking his senses like nothing else could. He pulled down his night vision goggles from the top of his head and leveled them over his eyes. Darkness had swallowed the woods, and with the new moon, it was going to be black as pitch out soon.
He’d been just about ready to call the weekend a bust when he’d heard movement about fifty yards from his station. While searching the direction with the scope, he saw something that had confounded him. It looked like a dog but much larger, almost the size of a small pony. It had to be a wolf. He’d heard of coyotes being in Virginia, but there hadn’t been reports of wolves for a hundred years or more. Didn’t matter, he wasn’t leaving here without a kill if he could help it, so he’d shot the beast. Now it was time to claim his prize.
Pulling his rifle level to his shoulder, he inched toward the rustling noise he heard, the random branch smacking his limbs as he walked. As he stepped through the brush and into a clearing, he saw the animal lying on its side, wiggling as it tried to stand. He’d hit it all right, in the shoulder mere millimeters from the clean kill-shot it should have been. Disappointment enveloped him. He was better than that. The animal still breathing, chest rising and falling quickly, forced out short, shallow bursts of air. The hunter removed the night vision goggles, took aim and moved closer until he was looking down the sights at the animal’s head, directing his next shot for the skull. Only before he could pull the trigger, the wolf started to change.
Right before his eyes, the muzzle shrank, and fur started to rescind along the body- getting shorter and thinner until it was completely gone. The hair rose on the back of his neck as snapping and popping sounds emanated from the creature. The limbs elongated, getting thicker, the shoulders wider.
The hunter’s heart gave a kick and started up a rhythm resembling machine gunfire. The rifle became heavy in his hands, so he lowered it while gawking at the thing in front of him. “The. Fuck?”
Within a few moments, there was a naked man lying at his feet and the wolf had vanished.
He swiftly raised his weapon again, taking aim. He didn’t know what the hell was happening, but he damn sure wasn’t going to let that… whatever it was, attack him. It didn’t look as if it was going anywhere, but he was taking no chances. The gunshot wound was seeping blood, but was much smaller than it should be.
“Please…” The man’s wide amber eyes met his, filled with moisture and fear. “Please, don’t hurt me.”
“What the hell are you?” the hunter whispered. There was no way the thing in front of him was human.
“I’m a man.” It groaned and coughed a wet sound.
“No way. Tell me what you are!” He prepared to fire. Was this an alien invasion? Or was it just that all of the tales about werewolves were true? And if werewolves were real, what other creatures could be out there right now? Without his consent, the hunter’s eyes quickly scanned the woods before darting back to the sight before him.
“Are you a werewolf?” He lifted his booted foot and roughly shoved the underbelly of the creature, turning it over onto its back. Damn, it really did look human. He would never have known there was anything different about this fellow had he not watched the change himself.
“Are. You. A werewolf?” he spat.
The creature flinched and a single tear rolled down the side of his face before disappearing into his hair. “No. Shifter. I-I’m… uh…a shifter.”
Holy crap! He’d heard of that before. Basically, the same thing as a werewolf, at least in his mind. The thing wasn’t human, after all. In fact, it would be a service to humanity if he got rid of it. His heart kicked again, but this time from excitement. A flush of warmth suffused his body, chasing away the cold.
Out of all the animals he’d killed all over the world, he’d never shot himself a shifter. Shit, he’d never even known such a thing really existed until now.
And just in time.
His life was stagnant, boring. The satisfaction from the hunt and a clean kill didn’t carry the power it once did. There was nothing new out there for him. Nothing, except this.
Hunting was in his blood. He worked and hunted… and that was all. Everything besides making a living came second. He was lucky enough to own his own company, so he was able to travel the globe, searching for his next big kill. Alaska, Africa, India, South America, all over the U.S., you name it and he’d been there. First, deer hunting, but that got tired quickly. He moved up to moose… and on and on. He’d just come back from his fifth African safari with a nice set of elephant tusks; paid a pretty penny for that shindig, too.
What was a little pay-off money when it came to excitement?
When his friends talked him into this weekend, he was not really into it. Then those same friends went home earlier today, leaving him alone. They were a bunch of weak pretenders, who couldn’t stand the cold, and couldn’t stay still for ten minutes without playing with their cell phones. It was disgusting, really.
That was all good now, though. He was the one getting the special kill because of it.
This made is year. Heck, this was the happiest moment that he could remember. No one he knew had bagged a shifter before. He was the first—the greatest big-game hunter in the world.
“Please…” The creature tried to sit up but fell back again.
“Don’t worry.” The hunter smirked. “I’ll make this quick.”
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